Matthew chapter 8:1-17 (continued)
“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. ‘Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.
When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’
And his servant was healed that same hour. Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’”
Last time we ended our look in chapter 7 with the call the “build our lives on the Rock.”This Rock of course is Jesus.We are called to build all of our life on Jesus. He is the “bedrock” of our existence and any form of existence without Him only leads to unfettered calamity.We all face troubles in life, death, disease, hurts, loss and the other storms that come as a part of the fallen human condition.In Jesus we have the firm foundation to withstand anything and when all is said and done to give God the glory and honor.
We will begin our look into chapter 8 today and we will see the power of the Jesus displayed and hopefully be moved to become more and more dependent upon Him. He is the same today, yesterday and in the gospels.This is somewhat hard for us today as we have become so self-sufficient or we like to think that we are.We have the idea of the “self-made” man and woman and of course there is no such thing.We live in and work in communities; we all have families and friends that make sacrifices for us. But in the Christian life it is important for us to surrender to the Holy Spirit. Only God can make us in His image, we cannot make ourselves in Him image.
He Touched Me, Verses 1-4
Leprosy was a serious thing in the biblical days.It is not as prevalent today in first world countries and has cures and manageable courses of treatments today. Lepers in Jesus’ day had to live outside of the main city.If they were approached by people they had to cry out “Unclean, unclean” so that the one approaching could change directions or move over to the other side of the street.
The leper had to be about 6 feet from anyone and if the wind was blowing in their direction then they had to be at least 150 feet from any other person.Even their own families were not allowed to be near them.We find the rules about Leprosy in Leviticus 13.They are very explicit and the Jews took these rules very seriously as did God.
AA contagious disease could eradicate a community in a short time.In Mark 1:40-45 we find another rendering of this account and what stands out in these two account of the same event, is that Jesus touched this man.
We do not know how long he had been leprous.But for the time that he had been leprous he had not felt the touch of another human. He would have been alone and living as an outcast. But Jesus touched him, in the account in Mark’s gospel; we see that Jesus “had compassion on him” touched him and healed him. What did that touch feel like to a leprous man? It must have felt like water to someone who had been stranded in the desert. Like the kiss of life to one who could not breathe.
This is how God is with all of us; we are diseased with sin, eaten to the core with evil. From birth we are like Adam and Eve hiding from God crying ‘naked, naked’. Shame is our only covering. But one day Jesus came by and heard our cry, He had compassion on us, He reached out and He healed us. He cured our disease of sin and we are no longer separated from God by evil.
We are now eternally connected to God in Jesus.He bore our sorrows and the disease of sin in His body to the cross. He who ‘knew no sin became sin for us’ so that we could have His righteousness. Have you felt the touch? I did, on a Monday night 34 years ago when I cried out to Jesus and He had compassion on me. He reached out and touched me.
Faith That Even Makes God Marvel, Verses 5-13
Jesus is a Jew. He came to the nation of Israel.He was prophesied about for 2000 years before He showed up. He sent the nation signs, prophets, preachers, Psalmist and any array for warnings that He was coming. And come He did, exactly where He said he would come and in the way He said He would come. Yet the Jews rejected Him, not every Jew obviously, but for the most part the nation of the Jews rejected their Messiah. Sadly many Jews still reject Jesus today.
When we read the account of the centurion in Matthew we don’t get a lot of details about the man but in Luke 7: 1-10 we find some more information about this man.He was a “good man” as attested by his servants; he had done many good things for the Jews including building synagogues.Jesus actually went with his servants to the man’s home and the Centurion methim outside the home because he did think he was worthy to have Jesus in his house.
This was not some kind of fake arrogance, but an honest sense of humility in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.This centurion was a man with some degree of power and he understood the power that God had.He understood that power of the “of God.” The spoken word of God was very powerful. He understood that God’s words were filled with power and a simple word spoken about his servant’s health would make his servant well.
Jesus marveled we are told in the accounts.How does one make God marvel?It would be amazing if you and I had the same faith; the kind of faith that makes God marvel. This man simply took God at His word. He humbled himself, realized that he could not help himself and that he needed God’s unique help. He understood that God, Jesus, did not have to help him but that He would.
The Jews as an entity had not yet and still have not come to acknowledge the power of Jesus. The refuse to accept Him as God, and yet this Gentile saw Him as He is and revered Him as the Living God with power over life and death, One who could simple issue a command and the universe would obey.Sadly I am often more like the Jews that the centurion.How about you? What is your faith like? Like the apostles we need to ask God to “increase our faith.”
It was His Mission, Verses 14-17
Here we see Jesus coming into Peter’s home and healing his mother-in-law. He simply touched her and her fever left her and she began to serve them. We will come back to this dear lady in a minute or two. But we see then that the people brought all of their sick and diseased relatives and friends and Jesus simply healed them.This was His purpose.
Yes, He came to take away our sins and pave a path to the Father in heaven. But more than that Jesus came to show us that God has compassion on our human condition.We, like Esau, sold our birthright for a bite of food. We gave away our dominion because we thought that God had cheated us and held back on us.
Jesus came to show us that God loved us and was compassionate towards our human frailty and weakness. He did not design our bodies to feel pain or to be sick and weak. He designed us to reign and conquer. Jesus came to bare our sorrows, our sicknesses and our pains. He was a man “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:5) and He had compassion on us.The God of the universe was moved to the inner parts with love for us.Oh what a God we serve.
Speaking of service let us go back to Peter’s mother-in-law, she was healed and immediately she began to serve.You know one of the things that we do a lot of in the New Testament church is have people sit and do nothing.You don’t see this in the Bible; once one is redeemed it is time to serve.People must invest themselves into something to be committed to it.People can be greeters, huggers, hand shakers, hand out the bulletins and collect the offering and a host of other jobs in a church.They must be invested or they will not have a sense of belonging and ownership.
My wife and I have a 2 year old who always wants to help.We can either limit her because of her abilities or we can expand her abilities.She can carry a bag from the car, she can put a cup in the sink and she can pick up a piece of paper and put it in the trash.She can do something.She will fail, she spills things, sometimes she breaks things; she falls, she misses the sink, but the most important part is that she is invested.She is actively doing something to contribute to the family.
Churches need to see each person this way.Get them involved.Make them feel invested and important, that they are an intricate part of the cogs of the wheel.If they don’t feel important then why be faithful to the cause?If no one misses them then why go?
Jesus had the disciples involved from the very beginning, they did stuff.They failed and He had to ride to the rescue, but they were doing the work and investing themselves in the Kingdom. What about you? Are you invested in the kingdom of God?
Are you actively involved in the effort to expand the Kingdom and to help find all of those that would say “YES!” to the gospel?Can you do more? Can you give more? If you have been healed from the curse of your sins, then get up and serve others. This is the most basic and fundamental result of redemption, the desire to serve other.
Luke 10:27 “He answered: ‘the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’”